Big dream came in little boxes
More than 100 shoeboxes are on their way to children somewhere in the world this Christmas because another child dreamed big and was rewarded for her faith.
In an all-time record, Addyson Nifong, 9, collected 102 shoeboxes for Triad Baptist Church’s Kids Street Children’s Ministry for Operation Christmas Child. Those boxes were among 673 Kids Street contributed this year to the worldwide ministry of Samaritans Purse.
Triad Baptist Christian Academy teacher Val Cooper’s third-grade class again helped pack and deliver the boxes to the local collection center for pickup.
“I like the idea of a kid who has never received any presents before suddenly getting this box full of gifts and getting to hear the gospel along with it,” Addie said of her feat. “And it’s super fun to organize the boxes.”
Cat Nifong, Addie’s mom, said her daughter always has loved filling shoeboxes and participating each year in Operation Christmas Child. But in 2014 she decided to increase her support by foregoing presents for her June birthday and instead asking party guests to bring items to fill shoeboxes.
That first year, Cat recalls, Addie gathered enough supplies to fill 30 but wanted to do even more. “Every year, she always asks, ‘How many boxes can we do?’ ” Cat said.
Then one Sunday in September, Cat said she heard a sermon from Pastor Rob Decker that added a whole new dimension to that question.
“As I sat listening to Pastor Rob preach about dreaming big for God, the Lord laid Addie and her love of shoeboxes and the kids that would receive them on my heart,” she said.
“After church, I as we were getting in the car, I asked her, ‘Addie, if you could dream big for God, how many shoeboxes would you want to do?’ And she got this huge grin on her face and said, ‘Really? 100!’
“Honestly, it made me nervous. 100 filled boxes?! That’s a lot!”
Addie quickly put feet on her faith, making a video for the family Facebook page which accompanied a calendar invite to a packing party. She talked the shoebox supply drive up with friends and family and even did a presentation in front of her homeschool co-op on how to pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child and why you pack a box.”
As the packing party date neared, though, Cat said she began to worry since they just had a few things from Costco and several cardboard and plastic shoeboxes.
But then items began to arrive. Some dropped off items, others donated money for shipping, and several volunteers stopped by the house to help pack shoeboxes.
“We started around 7 and packed till 11,” Cat recalls. “The final count was 102 — all packed at our house! There were several more boxes that people put together and took to their churches in Addie’s name. We were overwhelmed by how God honored and blessed Addie’s big dream!”
The Nifongs had so many shoeboxes that Cat and her husband, Daniel, couldn’t fit them all in the family van. Fortunately, Cat’s brother was visiting from Texas and had a rental SUV so they filled that up too.
Although Addie won’t be there in person when the 102 boxes are opened, she’ll be there in spirit through a ministry outreach, Cat said, fits perfectly with Triad’s mission to point lives toward Christ.
“Samaritans Purse doesn’t just deliver shoeboxes and leave those towns and villages but share Christ’s love through them by presenting the gospel in their language and with a follow-up discipleship program for these children and their families,” she said. “The gospel is the goal, and the boxes are the vehicle.
“Addie, and our entire family, are thrilled to be a part of this wonderful effort to point lives toward Christ and show children how they can personally make a difference and further the gospel.”
Moving to meet the need
Addie’s project, and the larger Kids Street effort of which it was part, was one of many outreach efforts at Triad this Christmas. Whether it was partnering with Prison Fellowship to help those incarcerated give gifts to their families through the Angel Tree ministry, or wrapping Christmas presents for free for the community, delivering teddy bears and other encouragement to cancer patients, or a surprise love offering and gift by a Sunday School to a church-supported missionary, Pastor Rob said all the actions represented what being a follower of Jesus Christ is all about.
“We can’t just pray for the need and pain of people,” he said. “We have to be willing to move toward the pain and need, and not away from it. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that because we go to church we are living a sacrificial life. You sacrifice for what you love.”